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Waco Tribune - Flores honors local veteran for military, community service

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WACO, February 24, 2017 | comments
By Kristen Hoppa

Standing in front of a wall honoring past and present war heroes, Rep. Bill Flores recognized a local Vietnam War veteran’s service and continued work on behalf of other veterans.

Flores gave retired Air Force Maj. Gary John Urban a Congressional Veteran Commendation on Friday at the Veterans One Stop in Waco, where Urban volunteers.

“There are good people here and they are here to help folks. That is what it is all about,” Urban said of the One Stop. “I just like to give back to the veterans here that need our help.”

Flores said the award is a small token compared to the work it recognizes.

“One of the first thing these brave men and women do when they are first inducted is that they hold up their hand and pledge to protect the constitution,” Flores said. “They pledge everything up to and including their lives, so there is hardly any recognition that we can give them that is sufficient for the pledge they made this country.”

“This gives us a chance to recognize veterans of this district who served not only their country, but then came home and are serving their community.”

Urban, a Clay County, Kansas, native, joined the U.S. Air Force at the age of 19 in 1967 and served two tours in Vietnam.

After serving more than 25 years, Urban retired from military service in 1992 as a major. He lived in San Antonio for several years, before he moved to McLennan County in 2002.

“I retired to help take care of my kids, because I had been on the road so much,” Urban said. “I have successful children, so life is good. And the people here at One Stop are helping people, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Through his volunteering efforts, Urban said he has seen hundreds of fellow veterans receive peer to peer support, benefits assistance, counseling and help for their families. Veterans One Stop director DeLisa Russell said Urban’s volunteer work is felt and needed on a local level.

“You can see what a gracious man Gary is, and in his quiet, wonderful way, he supports those who come in,” Russell said. “He is a part of many different service veterans’ peer networks … and he is always someone who can help provide direction to anyone.”

After the recognition ceremony, Flores presented Urban with an American flag, a service coin and certificate. Urban said he was humbled by the honor and promised to keep helping veterans and their families in Central Texas.

“Some people need more help than others, but everyone who served and their families deserve to be successful,” Urban said. “We try to steer people in the right direction and help them become successful.”

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Tags: Veterans

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